Last month I wrote about the incredible aging demographic for which I said the church is sorely unprepared.  I then laid out the challenge for people to prove me wrong and to give some examples of how the church is serving and preparing to serve the aging population.

ST. MATTHEW LUTHERAN CHURCH, COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, MN is a congregation taking the challenge to support aging people both now and in the future.  St. Matthew is located in a first ring suburb of Minneapolis and is in a community where over 60 languages and dialects are spoken in the public schools.  This congregation has been a pioneering congregation over the years and now steps up to the plate to serve a greatly diverse community while serving the aging population.

The Rev. William Hugo serves as pastor of the congregation and Parish Nurse Kathy Rosenberg directs the Caring Ministry.  The Caring Ministry actually serves all age groups and populations but the demographics of the congregation and neighborhood require Kathy Rosenberg to spend more and more time with the aging population.  Kathy has bee taking existing ministries and expanding their training to serve the aging population.  For example, Pastor Hugo and Kathy have had their Befrienders go through two training sessions regarding spiritual care for those with dementia.  Also, Kathy and two lay volunteers have gone through advanced care planning training so that they might facilitate workshops for those in the congregation and community that will deal with advanced directives and end of life decisions.  The hope is to support families in making these decisions before being caught up in the emotion of the moment.

Kathy, and those who work under her leadership, are also actively engaged in supporting parishioners who are in the hospital and nursing homes.  In addition they visit in homes, support people with health issues, help members get to their doctors appointments and listen as families seek to cope with those in dementia.

St. Matthew Lutheran Church is taking steps to expand ministry and support for those who are aging, those experiencing forms of dementia, those who are sick and those who are dying.


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